The Danger in Being Right
We’re all guilty of it sometimes, standing there shouting, demanding that our views be heard. We feel so certain that we know the answer, that our way of thinking is unquestionably right. But at what cost?
Being right is like having an entire tropical island to yourself and remaining in your hut. You see, when you insist on being right, you are limiting yourself to the perspective of 1 in 7.4 billion…and counting. It’s a pretty narrow point of view. Being right keeps us from having the full experience of life we’re capable of. Richard Rohr in his book, Simplicity-the Art of Living, says, “When we get involved with the pain of this world, we notice very soon that we have only a little fragment of the truth.” His point is when we open our hearts to see other people’s struggles and challenges, we realize there is often more to the truth than meets the eye. And suddenly, being right becomes very relative.
Since we can never know all that’s going on with other people, can we ever really claim to be right?
Only when we’re disconnected from what’s really going on in the world. When we’re too self focused, we need to cling to our limited version of truth because it protects our identity. Rohr explains, “When we face an inner compulsion to be the ones who are right…if we’re too taken up with this question, then we’re continually taken up with our self-image…” We believe the world revolves around our needs and interests. And we can’t let our guard down when we have so much riding on who we are and what we believe. In that state, we falsely believe that we can control our experience by being right. But all we really control is our level of aloneness.
Being right shuts people out.
Because being right requires that someone else be wrong, it is, in essence, an underhanded form of judgment and criticism. In passing judgment, we categorize people into those who see things our way, and those who don’t. Consequently this separates us from others. We become right and alone, an island unto the self, floating in the sea of humanity.
But unfortunately being alone isn’t what most of us want to experience in life. As humans we’re hardwired toward connection, toward coming together. So if we want success in our relationships with others, we need to find a way to be okay with not being right without losing our power. We need to adopt a new way of thinking that’s not about being right sometimes, and allowing others to be right other times. We need to recognize that there’s no such thing as “right.”
We can only get there when we let faith takes the place of our righteousness.
Because being right is the opposite of having faith. It is controlling and fearful. It has us holding on fiercely to one side with our backs to possibility and grace. Rohr suggests that “Faith [on the other hand] asks us to stand in the middle between two sides and build a bridge.” Faith asks us to lay down our weapons and take up our creative powers to find solutions, to always meet others half of the way without criteria, rules or specifications.
When we step onto the bridge, faith lets us off the hook for having to manage every aspect of our lives and the lives of those we’re close to. Faith allows us to simply say, “Who am I to know? Getting to that place of not knowing and allowing is when the Universe steps in and surprises us with something unexpected and new, a solution we might never have come to standing on one the side of right.